Official Move Day

Saturday was the OMD - Official Move Day. My dad and Kyle helped pack up an Explorer, my Mazda, and a baby semi. It all fit! :) They were both so helpful, I definitely couldn't have moved as quickly if it weren't for them. THANK YOU!

The "Big Truck" is so handy LOL. When we got to San Jose, all cars were unloaded and I got to work unpacking. Approximately 5 minutes later I decided I'd rather bake some cupcakes so I gave up.

Nicole, her friend Vanessa, and I made a quick trip to Safeway for eggs and cheesecake filling. Once home, we whipped up some de-lish fudge brownie cupcakes with a cheesecake filling, and cream cheese frosting.

Nicole and I grabbed a couple to bring over to our dad's new place.

Him and Lauretta moved to a beautiful and big new house a mile or so from their old house.

On the menu for dinner: steak, salmon, salad, and veggies. Lauretta prepped the salmon with s+p, lemon, and horseradish on half the filets.

I got to work choping green beans and brussels sprouts, which I roasted in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Before putting them in the oven, I coated them in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, s+p, and other random spices.

Meanwhile, Nicole prepped the salad and sauteed mushrooms, garlic, and 1/2 a red onion on the stove.

Dinner was amazing. It was fun to get involved with the prep this time - usually Nicole and I just show up to a huge feast so we both appreciated getting to help out this time.

After dinner we played Apples to Apples, ate cupcakes, and overdosed on Muddy Buddies haha. Then Katie led us in some drama-club inspired creative dance moves. "Be an orange, be, be, an orange. Peel an orange, peel, peel, an orange..." I loved it.

When Nicole and I got home, our cousin Aaron was there waiting for us! We chatted, told secrets, moved furniture, and then Kyle showed up.

Aaron, Kyle, and I drove to Campbell for Kevin + Kit's "move" party (coincidentally on my move day). After a couple of beers, cupcakes, embarassing story swaps, and a trip to In n Out for Aaron, we called it a night!


Oh, Telephone

I owe this guy a phone call.

I need to hear about Chicago!!

Also want to catch up with everyone here... I will. Promise.

Aunt Connie's New Year's Wedding

My mom, sister, and I flew to St. Louis last week for my Aunt Connie's wedding in St. Louis. The whole ceremony was beautiful and it was great to be back with family. My last midwest trip was over 1.5 years ago. 

Mia & Sam were the adorable flower girls. So cuuuuute.

New Year's Eve we had the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, then Nicole and I convinced our cousin Jordan to take us to Walgreens to get ice cream.  We spent the hours leading up to the countdown chowin down on yummy desserts and spinach and artichoke dip haha. Classico.

This is one of my favorite pictures - great bouquet action going on.

The family, most of it.... no, some of it. We are a big family!

Gotta get a picture of dessert, of course. Wonder what flavor is inside...

Snapped this shot while my mom and I set up some of the candy jars near the card/present table. All of their decorations made me think of Sleeping Beauty's castle at Christmas time. Does that make sense? It wasn't Cinderella castle-like. More medieval? 

Nicole, you might not like this picture, but I do. 

Dinner was delicious. But I most enjoyed the cake and ice cream! Plain ol' chocolate was a nice change from the "gin + tonic w/ a splash of sprite"'s I was downing.

I wanted to put up a picture of me and my momma and I liked this one the most. Left to right, Aaron's girlfriend, his mom, me, and my mom. At this point I believe I was running on and off the dance floor, a bit in Lauren La La Land aka Trouble Time (La^4 = Tr*Ti). I about had it when someone from the other side of the family rammed their spiky heel into my little toe. Apparently I cried? Nah. I'm sure I held it together and my family is just exaggerating.

This little tyke lasted longer than I did that night. Her and her sis ran up and down the halls, meanwhile I was in a deep dreamy sleep. It really was a great reception - the DJ was perfect. 

It made me beyond excited for the August wedding of my cousin Krista and her fiancee Adam!!! Oh gosh I cannot wait!! 


A Farm Stand Thanksgiving

Turkey-Day Recap!

Check out this map... You've got Monterey Bay on the left, what is probably Elkhorn Slough up top, and Highway 1 going up the center. 

That star-arrow thing in the middle is pointing right at one of the neatest/cheapest/diverse produce stands in the whole entire world: Farm Fresh Produce

Check out the Price indicator on Yelp. ONE DOLLAR SIGN. That's not a joke! This place is super duper di doooper cheap! Also check out "Hours Today: 6:00 am until 5:30 am" That's not true, because that would mean that they are open for 23 1/2 hours a day. You know what? They are actually open 24 hours a day! 

They get new produce around the clock so why not stay open around the clock? Driving from Santa Cruz to Monterey at 3 am and need 10 oranges? Want to get them for a buck? Well this is where you should stop!

My roommate Sarah originally told me about this place and the first time I went I was overwhelmed by all the deals. Now I've got it down to a science... I like to get grapes there, and freeze them for snacking on during the week. I'll also get some apples, plums, and usually an onion.

Before Thanksgiving, I made a booklet of all the dishes I wanted to prepare on turkey day:

1. Seared Brussels Sprouts
2. Orange Cranberry Sauce
3. Alton Brown's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
4. Honey Glazed Carrots
5. Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms
6. Cornbread and Dutch Crunch Apple Stuffing
7. Pumpkin Pie!!
8. Salad stuff <- but I didn't end up making the salad

I bought my brussels sprouts from the Marina Farmer's Market on Sunday and the rest of my veggies came from Farm Fresh Produce in Moss Landing. Check out my spread:

Orange (#2), Green Beans + Portobello Mushroom + Onion (#3), Parsley + Carrots (#4), Baby Mushrooms (#5), Apple + Onion + Celery (#6), Lettuce + Tomatoes (#8)... Lemons are for beer... MMMMM I love lemon in my beer. Better than orange fo sho.

Yeah... and my total for ALL of that was $12.78 (plus I got a bunch of frozen grapes, not pictured).

Thanksgiving morning David, my mom, my sister Nicole, and I drove at the crack of dawn in the freeeezing San Jose weather to go run the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot! 

One of my favorite traditions is running this race with my Mom and Nicole and Aaron, but sadly he couldn't make it this year because he has a girlfriend and she lives in LA area.

We quickly started the race, and finished the race, and grabbed a bunch of freebie snacks - hoping for any sort of warm sun rays (didn't get any though). Instead of sticking around for a while, we jammed back to the car and drove back to my moms.

After showering, I got to work in the kitchen. Timing things is pretty difficult. I was so nervous that it would be 5pm and everyone would be starving with no food ready. With Nicole and Kyle's help, we actually got a lot of the food ready to bake ahead of schedule.

Adding to the list above: the turkey, Kyle's mashed potatoes, Nicole's secret-ingredient banana bread, and my mom's sweet potatoes (favorite dish), we had 5 things that needed oven time.

Luckily, everything finished on time and was warm and delicious. While it sounds kind of corny,  Thanksgiving dinner truly was delightful. In attendance: Mom, Nicole, David, his 3 sons: Nathan, Sam, and Ben, David's coworker Doug, family friends Becky, Megan, and Andrew, and good ol' Kyle Dozeman... and myself. After my pumpkin pie slice, Ben brought me a chocolate chip cookie he took home from Starbucks - perfect end to the perfect meal. It was so much fun to spend the day cooking in the kitchen with Nicole and Kyle.

I wish I had more time to make fun, creative meals. Sadly, during the week I just don't feel as motivated to make tricky things for just myself to enjoy. Maybe if I had the "Cooking for One" cookbook I could learn how to spice things up without having to eat leftovers for lunch/dinner 2 or 3 days straight!

"Cooking for One"??? That sounds like a depressing gift. Nobody give it to me out of pity! I will make do until my move to San Jose. Hopefully then I can cook with my mom, Kyle, friends.... any takers for dinner dates??

While there weren't any pictures taken of the Thanksgiving dinner spread, I did take pictures of breakfast the next morning: Apple Walnut Sticky Buns!!

Adapted from a Sandra Lee recipe I saw on a Bake Sale special on the Food Network:

You'll need:
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/4 C brown sugar
2 T. softened butter
1 (8-count) tube of refrigerated cinnamon rolls
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 to 2 t. water

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 12-count muffin tin a lil' bit.
- Peel/core/dice apple into 1/2-inch cubes
- Stir together diced apples with walnuts and brown sugar.
- Divide apple mixture evenly into 8 of the 12 muffin tin slots.
- Put the 8 cinnamon buns, cinnamon side up, on top of the apple mixture.
- Put the muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Put a clean baking sheet on top of the muffin tin and flip to remove the sticky buns.

For glaze:
- In a small bowl, combine the frosting from the cinnamon roll tube with the pumpkin pie spice and 1 to 2 teaspoons of water.
- Mix until very thick and of pourable consistency. Drizzle over buns and serve.


Now let's start thinking about Christmas dinner... I'm thinking Vegetable Parmesan?


Wild Plum Bakery and Cafe

On Saturday two of my friends from San Jose were in town. Sarah and Brian drove down the night before for their pal's housewarming party. We decided to meet up for lunch and it was my task to find a "cute spot" to blog about! I'm glad Sarah keeps me accountable.

But where to go? Little known sandwich spot? Somewhere on Alvarado? Hit up the municipal wharf?

A few weeks ago, my friend Maren wrote a review of Wild Plum Cafe and Bakery after she had lunch there with her bf Max. I hadn't ever seen the Wild Plum Cafe, hadn't heard about it, but oh man - based on her pictures, I definitely had to file it away in my "gotta try" list. So, when I met up with Sarah and Brian for lunch, the Wild Plum was the place to go!

I'm a big fan of Yelp. I don't really ever write reviews, but I love reading them. Before texting Sarah and Kyle (yep - he met us there) the address, I quickly looked at what Yelpers had to say.  Cons: unprofessional, stressed owner, understaffed. Oh Phooey! They don't know anything.

Check out that one ^^ "Yum. Lunch." My thoughts exactly.

Wild Plum Cafe is right behind Denny's (I think) and has a couple of outdoor tables. We went on a rainy day, and were lucky that an inside table opened up right as we walked in the door. Our waiter brought coffee and water as soon as we sat down. 

We grabbed our menus but didn't look closely look at them for another 10 minutes or so. Our waiter returned probably once every 2 minutes to see if we were ready to order. That means that we had to apologize about 5 times for not being ready to order. Can you blame us though? We had to catch up!!

So 10 minutes later, we had made the HARD decision and each figured out what we wanted to order. Of course, that's when Kyle walked in and he had about 10 seconds to make his mind up... 

I chose the 1/2 sandwich (veggie sandwich) 1/2 salad (sesame chicken) option. So effin good - the bread started crumbling apart, but it was covered in avocado and pesto and who cares if I need to attack my sandwich with a fork? Not me, and not when it's this good!

Brian picked the 1/2 sandwich (grilled chicken sandwich) and 1/2 soup (...soup of the day?). Kyle picked the same sandwich, but the full size. I had a bite and it was warm and cheesy - highly recommend.

Sarah went with the full sesame chicken salad.

Everything was delicious! There were about 5 or 6 things on the menu that I still want to try, so I'll have to come back someday.

MMM food & friends FTW! (I just learned that means For The Win and now I can't stop saying it in my head). We talked about lots of stuff - jobs, challenges facing the educators of America, secret clearances, wedding parties, and... my impending MOVE. Dun Dun Dunnnn... Yup, I decided to move back to San Jose to be closer with the ones I love: family, friends, Jan Hagel, Valley Fair, Orange Leaf frozen yogurt... 

As I write this it's easy to see why moving is the right thing for me. I LOVE Monterey. It's a beautiful town, has lots of charm, and is great to explore with people who make you happy. However, I'm a numbers girl, and the numbers point to San Jose. I am eager to be back in a city that has a higher percentage of people I can go out and experience life with. Let's bring back the kickball games, the random mall trips, and MOM time :) I'm going to miss living here, miss my roommates, but there's absolutely nothing stopping me from future weekend trips.....


Pumpkin Pie to Pictionary

We had a holiday potluck at work yesterday and I decided to use it as a way to test out one of the pumpkin pie recipes I'm thinking of using for Thanksgiving. After looking online I decided to test Cook's Illustrated's recipe.

From their website:

The crust:
1 1/4 c. AP flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. sugar
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
2 T. cold vodka
2 T. cold water

Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until dough starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (there should be no uncoated flour).

Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

I made two batches of the crust. One went into the fridge and the other went into the freezer - that's the one that I will use for Thanksgiving!

The filling:
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk (I used 2%)
3 large eggs and 2 large yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 of a 29-ounce can drained cadied yams
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 t. grated fresh ginger (hard to grate!)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt

Not going to lie, pies are freaking hard to make! Maybe I should have used real "pie weights" instead of rice... Nevertheless here are the instructions I followed. Might I add that I also had tonnns of dishes and surfaces to clean afterwards...

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. DIFFICULT!! I need to YouTube the proper way to roll out dough without being a complete dunce. I'm considering changing my Facebook name to Duncely Olerich in exchange for $2200. Thoughts? I got an offer to do it...

Continuing on... Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. (I did NOT have a 1-inch overhang. Oops?) Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Gotta keep the fats cold!

Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. (Fun part!) Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. (Why would I use dirty coins around something I'm going to eat?? Yeah I know there's the tin foil but still... Wouldn't the penny smell at least blend in somehow?)

Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. I did the full 10. When I removed the pie plate and baking sheet from the oven, the crust was super puffy, which I don't think is desirable. Next time I'm going to leave the pie weights and foil on and bake for 20 mins - then remove and bake for only 5 mins uncovered.

When the pie shell was baking, I combined the pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan. While that came to a boil, I whisked the cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

The truth is that I might have left the saucepan contents at a "sputtering simmer over medium heat" for more than the recommended 5 to 7 minutes. While it simmered, I stirred constantly and mashed the yams against the sides of the pot. The goal was to wait until it was thick and shiny (10 to 15 minutes) but I don't think it ever quiiiite got there...

Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell.

Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F and continue baking until edges of pie are set, 20 to 35 minutes longer. I kept it in for the full 35.

This is what I thought the pie was going to look like when I took it out of the oven! Luckily it wasn't quite so devilish! I let it cool overnight, covered. The pie didn't get as much love as these gluten free pumpkin mini cupcakes, with an AMAZINGGG creamy cranberry macadamia goat cheese frosting.

Our potluck was a success!

We played games afterwards... Gotta love team bonding!


HAHA peg leg!


Dollar Scoop Night!

Oh hey there Baskin Robbins...

I love getting ice cream on Tuesday with my roommates! A scoop of Gingerbread Man ice cream for a buck :) quite a festive flavor....

And might I add that the Baskin Robbins attached to Subway smells SSsooOoOooo good. What if they made a mix between a meatball sandwich and sundae on accident??